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Dog Dental Care: How to Take Care of Your Dog's Teeth

Dogs can be impacted by tooth decay and gum disease just like people can. That's why caring for your dog's teeth is an important aspect of protecting their overall health. In today's post, our Flat Rock vets share tips on how to clean your dog's teeth and more.

Is dog dental care really necessary?

Just like for their human counterparts, dogs' oral health is an important element of their general health. By the time they reach about 3 years old, many dogs start to show signs of periodontal disease (gum disease). 

This early deterioration of dental health can have serious negative effects on their long-term health. Human studies have noted a link between periodontal disease and heart disease and this also appears to be true for our pets. 

In dogs, the link between heart disease and periodontal disease is due to bacteria getting into the bloodstream from the mouth, impacting the function of the heart and causing issues with other organs. In addition, other health problems are caused by pain due to eroded gums and missing or damaged teeth.

At-home oral healthcare routines can be coupled with dental treats to help keep your dog's teeth clean and manage the buildup of plaque and tartar. 

That said, the best way to ensure your dog's mouth remains clean and healthy is to take your dog to the vet for a yearly dental exam and hygiene cleaning. 

Neglecting to book your dog's annual professional cleanings could leave them at risk of developing bad breath, gingivitis, periodontal disease and in more severe cases, tooth decay, tooth loss and pain. 

What are signs of dental disease in dogs?

Taking care of your dog's teeth and making sure to schedule their annual dental cleanings can prevent serious oral health problems. 

If you notice any of these signs of dental issues or disease, it's definitely time for a professional dental exam and teeth cleaning:

  • Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
  • Bleeding around the mouth
  • Swelling or pain in or around the mouth
  • Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
  • Discolored teeth
  • Loose or
  • Broken teeth
  • Bad breath

Your dog may need to visit the vet more frequently for dental care if they are experiencing dental problems. Contact your vet if you spot symptoms of periodontal disease in your pet, such as reduced appetite (which could indicate tooth pain), abnormal chewing, drooling, dropping food from the mouth, bad breath or other symptoms.

Untreated oral health issues can worsen and cause your pet a great deal of pain and discomfort. Early detection is key to preventing unnecessary pain, and those regular checkups will save you money in the long run, potentially avoiding a veterinary emergency or costly surgery. 

Should I brush my dog's teeth?

As a pet owner, you have an important role to play in helping to prevent dental disease from impacting your pooch's health. When it comes to how to clean a dog's teeth, there are a few easy ways to get the job done:

  • Use a finger brush from your vet, or a child’s toothbrush to brush your pet’s teeth daily to remove any plaque or debris. It's a simple as brushing your own teeth. If your dog resists having their teeth cleaned try some doggie toothpaste in flavors your pooch will find irresistible. These special toothpastes can turn a chore into a treat.
  • Use a plaque prevention product (your vet can recommend some), which you can apply to your pet’s teeth and gums. These products act as a barrier to prevent plaque buildup.
  • Offer your pup treats such as dental chews or food designed to help prevent plaque buildup and tartar.

Dental care is an important part of your pet's overall health. Be sure to book your pet's annual dental appointment today, your dog will thank you. 

Your vet can offer more tips on how to clean a dog's mouth during their regular vet visits or dental appointments.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you have questions about your dog's oral health and dental care that aren't answered here? Contact Western Carolina Animal Hospital right away to book an appointment for your four-legged friend today.

Dog having teeth brushed

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